Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  By PHIL ERVIN  |  Last updated 11/11/13
MINNEAPOLIS -- If not for his parents, Kevin Love may havemade some youth football coach in Lake Oswego, Ore., a very happy man. As itwas, Stan and Karen Love refused to let their son engage in the sport, insteadpushing him toward the game his dad played professionally for four years.So when the Timberwolves' increasingly spectacular powerforward launches one of those laser-beam outlet passes the length of the floorand hits Corey Brewer in stride for an easy two, it's not with the accuracy ofa former gridiron signal-caller.Just the precision of a young man currently poised to rankas one of the best-rounded basketball players in a generation."My parents never let me play football," saidLove, 25. "They said basketball's where you're gonna get the job done, andhey, I guess they were right."The understatement of this young hoops season? Could be.With each passing game, Love's numbers reach new levels ofsumptuousness. In Friday's victory over Dallas, he finished two helpers shortof a triple-double and became the first NBA player to average at least 27points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists through a teams first six games of a season.Sunday night in Los Angeles, he tallied 18 points and eight rebounds in thehighest-scoring quarter in franchise history and finished with 25 and 13 as theTimberwolves beat the Lakers at the Staples Center for the first time since2005.Since the 1985-86 season, two NBA players have accumulated180 or more points, 100 or more rebounds and 30 or more assists through thefirst seven games of a season. Kevin Love, in 2013-14, is one of them.The first was former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett in1999-00."He has so much court presence," teammate KevinMartin said of Love. "Everyone is going to take their best shot at him. Heopens up the game a little bit, and thats what we need."The rebounding was present almost immediately after Lovespent a year at UCLA and was drafted fifth overall in 2008. The scoring camealong a little more gradually, spiking in 2011-12 when Love dropped 26 per gameto finish fourth in the league.Then came last year: the knuckle pushups, the broken digits,and the arthroscopic knee surgery that kept him out of 64 games.He came back with a bitter vengeance he exhibits on thecourt but isn't wont to discuss off of it. President of basketball operationsFlip Saunders and coach Rick Adelman asked Love to channel some of it into becominga better facilitator, citing his keen awareness and remarkably soft hands for aperson standing 6-foot-10 and weighing more than 240 pounds.Hard to believe even those two basketball minds could'veexpected what's transpired thus far. Probably not Love, either, even though hespent the preseason stressing he needed to become more of a playmaker."I've finally spoken it into existence," Lovesaid. "It's happening now. I think it's just a product of -- even thoughI've been scoring the ball at a high rate -- not having to carry so much of theload on the offensive end. It makes the game more fun when you're able to getyour teammates going as well."Going into Monday night's matchup with the Clippers, Loveled NBA power forwards with 33 assists (4.7 per game, second on the team onlyto Rubio). His three assists Sunday were his fewest since Minnesota blew outOklahoma City in the second game of the season.Courtesy of Love's ability to tear down rebounds, turn andquickly find Brewer, Martin or point guard Ricky Rubio on the break -- usuallywith a toss that eclipses at least half the length of the court, sometimesalmost all of it -- the Timberwolves are second in the NBA with 19 fast-breakpoints per contest.It's a product first of vision, then the outlet man'sdecision-making after Love gets him the ball, Adelman said."You've got to be aware of how much is a guy out ahead?How much is he not?" Adelman said. "But you don't have to throw itthe length of the court. You can get it out to half-court, and that's what wewant to try to do is get the ball up the floor quicker. Step two, now, what areyou gonna do when you get it up there quicker? Are you gonna force the issue,or are you gonna make the other team guard you?"Brewer, one of the NBA's most impactful transition threats,has been the primary beneficiary of Love's recent distribution. The majority ofBrewer's 14.3 points per game have stemmed from a Love assist, generally of thehighlight-reel-heave variety.Perhaps their prettiest connection came in the first quarterSunday when Love snagged a defensive rebound under the basket, spun around 180degrees and lofted a perfectly-placed, 85-foot bomb. Los Angeles defender JodieMeeks was stride-for-stride with Brewer, but the ball dropped into a spot whereonly the Minnesota small forward could catch it.(Reads like a football recap, no?)Brewer swooped in for a lay-in upon reception, but Meeks waswhistled for a clear-path foul first."The guy can throw a chest pass 100 yards," Dallascoach Rick Carlisle said. "I mean, he should be an NFL quarterback; hecould throw chest passes to the receivers."But he can also throw interceptions. In the third quarter oflast week's loss to Golden State, Love saw a streaking teammate and chucked theball down the middle of the floor, but Andre Iguodala sniffed it out and,shortly after, hit a 3 at the other end.Love, then, has to pick his spots."I still get caught," said Love, who as of Mondayafternoon led the league in rebounding and ranked second in scoring. "Likeagainst (the Warriors), I got too ambitious and threw one right to(Iguodala)."Iguodala, one of the league's better defenders, knew thepass was coming. As Love continues to hook up with teammates in transition,more opponents are going to make a concerted effort to take away that aspect ofMinnesota's offense.A seven-game sample size is also a statistics-skewer; Lovehasn't averaged more than 2.9 assists per game in any of his four full NBAseasons, and there's still plenty of time for his current average to drop.But there's only so much an adversary can do, short ofcompletely give up on offensive rebounds and sprint back once a shot is fired.Love's prowess as a long-ball passer reminds Carlisle offormer star center Wes Unseld, to whom Love's middle name of Wesley paystribute. The 6-foot-7 center and Stan Love played together for the BaltimoreBullets during the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons.Also a highly capable open-court distributor, Unseld ranks24th all-time in career assists among NBA big men."I remember Wes Unseld," Carlisle said."Unfortunately, thats how old I am, and I mean Love is an equal to him interms of his ability to outlet the ball quickly. Its a phenomenal skill."Love attributes it to playing youth hoops on his brother'steam against players that were three years older than him. He couldn't shooteffectively on a 10-foot hoop, so he launched shots chest-pass-style during hisearly years."I'd make the shot at a very, very high rate,"Love said, "so that's how that touch kind of came about."For his part, Brewer actually did play a little widereceiver at Portland (Tenn.) High School once upon a time. The lessons intiming and hand-eye coordination gleaned then certainly don't hurt now whenLove fires a pass his direction."When he gets the rebound," Brewer said, "Ijust run." Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter
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